By Paul Gable
Horry County Council is taking a close look this week at projected deficits in the Horry County Solid Waste Authority and Horry County Department of Airports.
The HCSWA board heard of a revised projected deficit of nearly $600,000 for the coming fiscal year earlier this week.
The deficit comes mainly from higher costs, including personnel pay and benefits and increased construction cost projections for the authority’s landfill expansion.
However, the recycling agreement with Charleston County also continues to operate in the red.
The airport deficits all come on the general aviation side of operations, according to a report by HCDA to the Horry County Transportation Committee earlier in the week.
According to HCDA statistics, Grand Strand Airport is losing approximately $304,000, Conway Airport approximately $200,000 and Loris Airport approximately $100,000. The only thing keeping the fixed base operations at Myrtle Beach International profitable are fuel sales to military aircraft using the facilities.
The above number for Grand Strand Airport does not include approximately $165,000 spent in legal fees during the current fiscal year for the ongoing lawsuit with Skydive Myrtle Beach.
One possible option for reducing the deficits is privatizing fixed base operations at Myrtle Beach International, Grand Strand and Conway airports.
The committee directed HCDA to develop Requests for Proposals for potential interested private operators to respond to with all three of the above general aviation airports together in a package and another RFP with just Grand Strand and Myrtle Beach International general aviation together as a package.
Both the HCDA and HCSWA are operated as enterprise funds meaning the two agencies are not part of the county’s general fund budget. Horry County Council does approve each budget and they are included in the overall county budget each fiscal year.
However, tax dollars do get into the budget of each.
The HCDA relies on state and federal grants each year as a significant revenue stream. The HCSWA derives much of its income from dedicated taxes. It receives revenue from a 6 mil property tax on all residents in the unincorporated areas of the county as well as revenue from taxes or fees paid by municipal residents for trash collection.
Additionally, the full faith and credit of Horry County is pledged against environmental damage, if any should ever occur, at the HCSWA.
Horry County Council will be taking closer looks at possible options for both of these agencies as the budget process continues along this spring.